Interview with ICMP alumnus Janik Setz

We quiz our alumnus on songwriting, new projects and collaborating with Ivor Novello winner Guy Chambers…


Not many fledgling songwriters can call Ivor Novello winning Guy Chambers among their mentors so our alumnus Janik Setz must be doing something right.

Janik was a visiting student from our partner school, HDPK Berlin. After participating in a workshop with BA Songwriting Programmes Leader Jonathan Whiskerd in Berlin arranged via our international partners scheme, Janik enjoyed a great year studying with us in London through the initiative. 

Since completing his studies with us, Janik has spent some serious time in Guy’s studio, assisting with sessions and more. He’s now returned to his native Germany and is working on new material with his band Kalon as well as gearing up for an extensive UK tour.

Ahead of the live jaunt, check out our interview with Janik on everything from inspirations to working with Guy…

At what point did you know that music was for you? 

There has been a huge festival going on every year close to where I grew up called Southside Festival. I think it's comparable to Reading or Leeds. My mum took me to it when I was thirteen in 2008. I was impressed by how big it was and how many great bands it had. My hairdresser at the time told me to go and see a band called The Kooks, she said it'd be totally my thing.

I followed her advice and fell in love with them. I remember how Luke Pritchard came on stage with his long curly hair, a white headband, tight skinny jeans and some brown leather boots. They started to play and I was completely blown away by their music and vibes. So much energy on that stage! That's when I knew…  

What drew you to study at ICMP - and how were your experiences with us? 

The first time I heard of ICMP was through some students at my university in Berlin. London has always been a place I wanted to live and when I asked them about their experiences at ICMP they told me that it really helped them to improve their songwriting so I thought that sounded like something I'd be into.

From the minute I got there everyone was really helpful and nice. Especially Jonathan Whiskerd. I met him at a workshop that he did a couple of years ago in Berlin.

I can highly recommend ICMP to anyone who wants to start a career as a songwriter. They have so many things to offer: Things like The Hub, who I met with even before the semester started, or the Songwriters' Circle events.

I learned lots about being more confident on stage especially as a non-native speaker, about diction, songwriting techniques, about the UK music business itself and where I stand as a musician/artist." 

It’s not only about songwriting in general, it's about you as a writer and how you get to the point where you're ready to leave school and get out into the real business.

You've worked with Guy Chambers - how did this come about? And what's it like working with Guy? 

It was about a year ago when one of my teachers introduced me to him just before I moved to London. I told Guy about my plans, what I was doing so he gave me his email address and told me to get in touch. I did when I moved to London and he invited me to come over to his studio in West London.

This was all very exciting, because I have never been to a studio like that before. I had a really, really great time, it was amazing how many people I have met in such a short time period as a result. Guy is very focused and productive as well, he has a good workflow.

From making tea to recording vocals - working for and with Guy has been a great pleasure." 

I really appreciate everything he has done for me. I'm happy to consider him as a friend and will hopefully get to do a session with him soon. 

You're now based in Berlin and playing/writing as part of the band Kalon - how did you form the group? 

We formed the group about 1 1/2 years ago back in Berlin. Me and my guitarist met in a bar in East Berlin and both had a strong passion for the same music so that's how we started to write together .

Since that a lot of things have happened, and he came to visit almost every month during my time in London. We did a lot of sessions, tried to play as many shows as possible and spread the word. We had some very wonderful moments and concerts here. I specially remember the first Sofar Sounds concert we played, that was a banger! So many people, carefully listening and appreciating our music. We released our first single ‘Gotta Let Go’ in June 2018 and now we're almost done with the recordings of our next three singles. 

What have you got coming up with your music projects? 

Like I mentioned earlier we have been in the studio to record the next three singles and the first one is about to be released in September. We're also planning new music videos, live sessions, we're doing a little UK tour very soon! 

What's been the best of advice you've received about the music industry? 

Believe and live. One of my first music teachers told me about it and how it inspired him in his career. It sounds cheesy but he has been right. You gotta believe in what you're doing and live it. That means don’t sit around and wait for it to happen. You wanna be a rock star? Then work like one! 

Visit for more and listen to 'Gotta Let Go' by Kalon below:

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by ICMP staff writer
September 3, 2018
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